Green’s Dictionary of Slang

make v.

[for mid-20C uses, note L. Block, Diet of Treacle (1961) 126: ‘Consider the verb make [...] The universal verb, the inevitable. I can’t make it, baby. Let us make another scene. Let us make it. [...] It means everything, anything. A universal. A perfect universal. The unfortunate fact is that it also means nothing at all.’ ]

1. to obtain, to attain a goal.

(a) [late 17C+] to steal (from).

(b) [mid-19C+] to promote, to make successful, usu. as made.

(c) [20C+] (US) to seduce, to have sexual intercourse with.

(d) [1910s+] (US) to succeed in getting something; usu. constr. with for, e.g. make a croaker for a reader, to persuade a doctor to write a prescription for narcotics; make for a stash, to steal the drugs another addict has hidden so as to use them oneself.

(e) [1920s] (US Und.) in weaker form of sense 1d above, to entice the potential victim of a confidence trick.

(f) [1920s+] to attain a goal, e.g. make the team, make a club.

(g) [1950s–60s] (US) to consume drugs or drink.

(h) [1960s+] (US) to make a drug purchase.

2. [mid-19C+] (US) to consider, to regard, to estimate as, e.g. I make it about 10 o’clock.

3. in senses of movement.

(a) [mid-19C+] (US) to go to, to arrive at, to attend, to pay a visit.

(b) [1900s] (Aus.) to leave.

(c) [1910s+] spec. use of sense 3a above, to catch, e.g. make a plane, make a train.

4. (orig. US police/Und.) in sense of SE make out, to discern, abbr. make an identification.

(a) to recognise (in a non-judicial context).

(b) [20C+] to witness or observe, to recognize, to identify a suspect; thus make someone for, to recognize someone as.

(c) [1960s+] to stop and search people on the street.

(d) [1990s+] (US Und.) to prove someone guilty in court.

5. [1900s–60s] (US) to understand or to empathize with.

6. [1940s+] to appear in the newspaper.

7. [1940s+] (US, mainly Southern) to distill liquor illegally.

8. [1940s+] (US black) to straighten one’s hair.

9. [1950s+] (US) to enlist someone as an official member of the US Mafia; usu. as made adj. (4)

10. [1950s+] (US) to bear or endure.

11. [1960s] (US) to enjoy, to appreciate.

In compounds

make-up (n.) [1950s] (drugs)

1. an injection of heroin.

2. the need to find more drugs.

In phrases

make for (v.)

[1940s+] to identify, to connect to.

make off (v.)

[1940s] (US) to pretend.

make out (v.) [SE make out, ‘to establish by evidence, argument’ (OED); see also separate entry]

[late 19C+] to arrive at a conclusion; thus how do you make that out? how do you reach that conclusion?

make over (v.)

[20C+] (US black) to flatter.

make up to (v.)

1. [late 18C+] to ‘make love to’, to ‘chat up’.

2. [19C+] to curry favour with.

make with (v.) (also give with) [Yid. macht mit, make with]

[20C+] (orig. US) to use, to affect, to perform, to pose as.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

make-bate (n.) (also makebait)

[16C–19C] a troublemaker; one who stirs up arguments; also attrib.

makeweight (n.) [late 18C–early 19C]

1. a small candle.

2. a small, slender person.

In phrases

make... (v.)

see also under relevant n. or adj.

make a die (v.) [? pun on make a day of (‘day’ = ‘die’ in Cockney pron.)]

[early 17C–19C] to die.

make an example (v.)

[late 17C] to get drunk.

make free with both ends of the busk (v.)

see under busk n.

make the legal move (v.)

[1950s+] (US teen) to get married.